Leave your watch at home when you head to Waco; you won’t need it unless you want to see how fast time is flying. With world-class museums, incredible historical sites, and relaxing indoor and outdoor venues, you’ll never run out of wonderful things to see and experience. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is leave. The following are just a few of the many exciting things to do in Waco.
Magnolia Market at the Silos
The owners of the Magnolia Market at the Silos, Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV’s hit show “Fixer Upper” are proud to call Waco their home. The silos have become an attraction in their own right – offering not only shopping, but also a fun play area, garden, food trucks, and more.
Visit Cameron Park Zoo
Open seven days a week, Cameron Park Zoo is one of the best Waco attractions to see while you’re in town. Take a shady stroll through spectacular exhibits like the bald eagle habitat; the South American exhibit with its capybara, squirrel monkeys, and king vultures; and the African savannah, where the giraffes, elephants, a rhinoceros roam. Cougars, black bears, and river otters hang out at the Piney Woods exhibit, while the Brazos at Night barn houses owls, bats, and other nocturnal critters. Special events are held often, including kid-centric Summer Adventure Camps and the annual zip-line, bounce house, and face painting party known as KidZoobilee.
Check Out One of Waco’s Museums
Waco boasts more than its fair share of terrific museums. Besides the Mayborn Museum and the Texas Collection at Baylor, there’s the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (TSHOF) located on the north side of the Baylor campus. The TSHOF honors men and women who have brought “lasting fame and honor to Texas sports,” including Nolan Ryan, Troy Aikman, Roger Clemens, and Darrell Royal. It also features exhibits on the Cotton Bowl and the Southwest Conference, as well as hall of fames devoted to Texas tennis and high school football.
While you might find a member or two of the Arlington-based baseball team in the sports hall of fame, you’ll have to head to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum for the real thing. The official repository of the famed lawmen, the museum displays ranger memorabilia and exhibits on the men who distinguished themselves through extraordinary service. To see homes built when the Rangers were still a relatively new arm of law enforcement, check out the Fort House on Fourth Street, a Greek Revival-style home built in the late 1860’s. The McCulloch House, a historic house museum featuring family heirlooms of 19th-century owners Champe Carter McCulloch and his wife Emma, is another great place to visit if you’re interested in antique art and furniture.
Worked up a thirst? Head to the Dr Pepper Museum for a taste of Waco’s most famous beverage. Browse the museum’s exhibits to sate your thirst for knowledge about the company’s origins and history then head to soda fountain for an old fashioned Dr Pepper float.
Enjoy the Outdoors
If you happen to be in Waco during the summer, you’ll probably look for some way to escape the heat. Forget the pool at the motel; there are several places where you can dive into some cool water. Follow the paddling trails on the Brazos River, or jump into the inviting waters of Lake Waco. Along with being a popular place to swim, the lake offers enough space for boating, waterskiing, and it’s a favorite for anglers thanks to the excellent largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie fishing. While you’re there, check out the Lake Waco Wetlands on the north shore for excellent bird watching and wildlife viewing. If you don’t have a boat but you still want to catch some waves, head to Hawaiian Falls Waco. The water park features a wave pool, lazy river, lots of water slides, and a spray area for the younger kids. BSR Cable Park offers wakeboarding, a long lazy river, and the Royal Flush – an enormous water slide. Prefer to stay dry? Hit the trails in Cameron Park, 427 acres of beauty with trails from easy to truly challenging.
Sample Waco’s Tasty Spirits
Whether you like to savor the smooth smokiness of whiskey, deduce the subtlest notes in wine, or feel like a kid again with a cold soda, Waco has you covered. The friendly folks at Valley Mills Vineyards invite you to come and sample their wines made from Texas grapes, hear live music, or take a class. The Waco Winery & Vineyards is open several days a week and also produces distinctive Texas wines. For those looking for stiffer drink, national darling and local business Balcones Distilling is on the cusp of opening a new facility in downtown Waco. Be sure to contact Balcones prior to visiting to arrange for tours and tastings.
Explore Baylor University
Baylor University is one of the finest colleges in the country, and the school’s beautiful Waco campus is as distinguished as its academic programs. Beyond just touring the grounds and taking in landmarks like the Robbins Chapel or the bear habitat, a handful of campus attractions are especially deserving of your time in Waco. For starters, pay a visit to the two libraries on the south side of campus, each home to its own special collections. The Armstrong Browning Library is the site of the largest assembly of material by poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, while the nearby Carroll Library has the Texas Collection, a stunning archive of Texas history-related books, photos, maps, and other materials.
On the north side of campus, The Mayborn Museum hosts a fascinating array of exhibits in natural science, history, geology, archeology, and paleontology. Keep going north, just beyond the Brazos River, and you’ll find McLane Stadium, the “den” of Baylor’s high-scoring football team. The stadium also stages a number of other exciting events throughout the year, including RibFest and a popular, but grueling, half-marathon.